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How Hormones Affect Women’s Oral Health and What to Do About It

From puberty and menstruation to pregnancy and menopause, the hormonal changes that a woman undergoes throughout her life significantly impacts her oral health. And given the strong link between oral health and overall health, this makes practicing good oral hygiene of the utmost importance for women. 

Poor oral health, says orthodontist Dr. Heather Kunen, DDS, MS, co-founder of Beam Street, can lead to increased inflammation in the body that can worsen inflammatory and autoimmune conditions such as diabetes. Dental health is also directly connected to heart disease, which is becoming more common among women. Dr. Rhonda Kalasho, a double-certified dentist based in Los Angeles, notes that gum disease has shown to increase the risk of heart disease by 20 percent.  

On the bright side, there are preventative things you can do. Keep reading to learn more about how hormones impact women’s oral health at different stages in life, plus some expert tips on how to keep you and your teeth and gums happy and healthy.

How hormones affect women’s oral health at different stages

Menstruation

Progesterone levels go up during menstruation, which can lead to redness and inflammation of the gums and, in some cases, periodontal conditions, Dr. Kunen says. If you implement oral hygiene practices, though (see tips below!), you likely won’t see any of these changes during your period. 

Birth control

Contraceptives change your hormones levels and, in turn, can also affect your oral health. Dr. Kalasho says some women on birth control report having irritated, swollen, and red gums. If this happens, she adds, the gums will have an exaggerated response to plaque, making oral care habits crucial. 

Pregnancy

Thanks to the roller coaster of hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy, Dr. Kunen says many women experience things like gum inflammation, bleeding, tooth mobility, gum disease, and bone loss, especially during the third trimester. So it’s very important for pregnant women to visit the dentist and stay consistent with oral hygiene rituals. 

Menopause

Although hormone levels decline during menopause, Dr. Kalasho says women still experience oral health changes. These can include burning sensations, dry mouth, more cavities, and decreased bone density of the jaw, which can cause tooth loss and exacerbate periodontal conditions. 

How to practice good oral hygiene

1. Brush twice a day

To ensure you’re keeping your teeth and gums in tip-top shape, brushing two to three times per day is essential, Dr. Kunen says. Traditional tubes of toothpaste, however, are typically laced with harmful ingredients. If you’re looking for a more natural and effective alternative, try our new Himalayan Pink Salt Toothpaste. The pink salt has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that prevent bad breath, detoxify your mouth and leave it feeling super clean. It also helps strengthen your teeth, protects tooth enamel, and prevents cavities without the need for fluoride, sodium lauryl sulfate, or parabens. 

2. Floss daily

Brushing on its own can only do so much. Dr. Kalasho also emphasizes the importance of flossing daily, or using a water flosser if you prefer, to reach the nooks that your toothbrush can’t. She adds that during your period, your entire body is more sensitive, including your gums, which means they are more likely to become irritated and bleed. Still, brushing and flossing more often is encouraged during this time because leaving plaque on and between the teeth will only cause more inflammation. 

3. Rinse your mouth

Once you’ve brushed and flossed and your mouth is squeaky clean, next comes a mouth rinse to finish it off. “Anti-microbial or anti-gingivitis mouth rinses are exceptional for decreasing gum inflammation,” Dr. Kalasho says. “Make sure the product you use does not have an alcohol base in its ingredients and make sure it is well hydrating.”

4. Schedule regular checkups with your dentist 

Lastly, in addition to taking excellent care of your teeth and gums at home, Dr. Kalasho also recommends visiting your dentist regularly for cleanings. The frequency will depend on what your dentist recommends, but typically once or twice a year is good for most people. 

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